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Island Lives

Historical Archaeologies of the Caribbean

Edited by Paul Farnsworth, with contributions from Jay B. Haviser, Andre Delpuec

Publication Year: 2001

This comprehensive study of the historical archaeology of the Caribbean provides sociopolitical context for the ongoing development of national identities.

Long before the founding of Jamestown in 1607, there were Spanish forts, bustling towns, sugar plantations, and sea trade flourishing in the Caribbean. While richer nations, particularly the United States, may view the Caribbean today as merely a place for sun and fun, the island colonies were at one time far more important and lucrative to their European empire countries than their North American counterparts. From the 15th to the 19th centuries, as competing colonial powers vied with each other for military and economic advantage in the Western Hemisphere, events in the Caribbean directly influenced the American mainland.

This is one rationale for the close study of historical archaeology in the Caribbean. Another is the growing recognition of how archaeological research can support the defining of national identities for the islands, many of them young independent states struggling to establish themselves economically and politically. By looking at cases in the French West Indies, specifically on Guadeloupe, in the Dutch Antilles and Aruba, in the British Bahamas, on Montserrat and St. Eustatius, on Barbados, and the within the U.S. Virgin Islands, the contributors to Island Lives have produced a broad overview of Caribbean historical archaeology.

Island Lives makes clear that historical archaeology in the Caribbean will continue to grow and diversify due to the interest Caribbean peoples have in recording, preserving, and promoting their culture and heritage; the value it adds to their "heritage tourism"; and the connection it has to African American history and archaeology. In addition, the contributors point to the future by suggesting different trajectories that historical archaeology and its practitioners may take in the Caribbean arena. In so doing, they elucidate the problems and issues faced worldwide by researchers working in colonial and post-colonial societies.

Paul Farnsworth is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Louisiana State University.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures and Tables

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pp. ix-xvi

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pp. xvii-xxiv

Historical archaeology in the Caribbean (figure 0.1) is as old as the discipline itself—not so very old by comparison with some disciplines. There have always been a handful of historical archaeologists working in the region. There have also been a few periods when the numbers have swelled, such as the years prior to 1992...

Part I: Historical Archaeology in the Caribbean

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1. Historical Archaeology in the Colonial Spanish Caribbean

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pp. 3-20

The celebration of the Columbian Quincentenary was an event that one would have thought to have been eagerly anticipated by both scholars and the general public in the New World. The consequences of the meeting of the Old World and the New became a required topic of investigation for Spanish colonial researchers...

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2. Historical Archaeology in the French West Indies: Recent Research in Guadeloupe

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pp. 21-59

Historical archaeology is a discipline still struggling for recognition in the French West Indies. The limited development of archaeological research on the colonial period in the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique (figure 2.1), as we will see, is due to several reasons. First, we must change the state of affairs in French territories overseas...

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3. Historical Archaeology in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba

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pp. 60-81

Five Caribbean islands constitute the present Netherlands Antilles: Cura

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4. Historical Archaeology in the British Caribbean

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pp. 82-99

Great Britain possessed more island colonies in the Caribbean during the colonial era than any other European power. Most of these islands are now independent nations that remain linked with the United Kingdom as members of the British Commonwealth. Their past connections are manifested today in numerous ways, ranging from use of the English language...

Part II: Caribbean Landscapes

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5. Time Lines: Changing Settlement Patterns on St. Eustatius

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pp. 103-141

St. Eustatius (commonly called Statia) is best known as a major Caribbean entrepôt that supplied arms and supplies to North America during the American Revolution (Jameson 1903). In addition to being a bustling port, however, the island was also a community of diverse people from many lands—merchants, craftsmen, plantation owners, and slaves...

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6. A Venue for Autonomy: Archaeology of a Changing Cultural Landscape, the East End Community, St. John, Virgin Islands

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pp. 142-164

In the late eighteenth century a small Creole community comprised primarily of people of color emerged within the East End quarter of St. John, Danish Virgin Islands (figures 6.1, 6.2). This chapter presents data recovered from an intensive archaeological survey using Global Positioning System (GPS) instrumentation to locate house sites...

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7. “Getting the Essence of It”: Galways Plantation, Montserrat,West Indies

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pp. 165-206

One fine summer morning not too long ago, John “Montserrat” Carty, Junior Martin, Lydia Pulsipher, and James Howson stood on the roadside above Galways plantation. As they had been for several years now, they were talking about place names and meanings attached to them. One of these was Gadinge, a somewhat mysterious place...

Part III: Caribbean Cultures

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8. Creolization in Seventeenth-Century Barbados: Two Case Studies

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pp. 207-233

Deetz (1977), Reitz and Scarry (1985), and Faulkner and Faulkner (1987) were among the first of many to argue that once a colonist set foot on the new shore, a process began that ultimately transformed the cultural behavior of the colonist into something new and different from what it had been in the home country. This change was wrought by accommodation to new environments...

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9. “Negroe Houses Built of Stone Besides Others Watl’d Plaistered”: The Creation of a Bahamian Tradition

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pp. 234-271

Africans and Europeans brought their own ideas and cultural backgrounds to a dynamic cultural context in the Caribbean. One result was the negotiation of new cultural expressions that reflected an amalgamation and melding of traditional ideas to satisfy the needs of the physical, biological, and cultural environment that they now shared...

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10. Methodist Intentions and African Sensibilities: The Victory of African Consumerism over Planter Paternalism at a Bahamian Plantation

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pp. 272-300

So an exasperated committee from the Bahamian General Assembly wrote of their attorney general, William Wylly, in 1817, shortly after arresting him for treason. The reasons for Wylly’s arrest were as numerous as his enemies, but the charges against him had mainly to do with his interactions with the British African Institute, which was pushing for reform in the conditions of enslavement...


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pp. 301-352


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pp. 353-354


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pp. 355-378

E-ISBN-13: 9780817313302
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817310936

Publication Year: 2001